Pope Benedict officially congratulated the Italian bishops’ conference for hosting this week’s “Conference on God.” He outlined the importance of such initiatives for keeping God within “man’s horizons,” because without Him “humanity loses its orientation and risks committing steps towards its own destruction.”
The conference was kicked off with a letter that the Holy Father wrote to the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. In his message, the Pope praised the work of the episcopal conference and its cultural project committee in organizing this meeting of the minds “that confronts one of the great themes that has always fascinated and exposed the human spirit.”
“The question of God is central also for our age,” said the Pope, describing it as an era “in which we often tend to reduce man to just one dimension, the ‘horizontal,’ considering openness to the Transcendent irrelevant to his or her life.”
“The relationship with God … is essential for the path of humanity, the Church and each Christian has the duty to make God present in this world, to seek to open to men the access to God.”
In a way, wrote the Pope, the Conference on God seeks to “show the various routes that lead to the affirmation of the truth about the existence of God.” But that’s not the only thing this open debate serves for, continued the Holy Father, saying it also sheds light on the “essential importance that God has for us, for the hope that illuminates our path, for the salvation that waits for us after death.”
Pope Benedict also pointed out that mankind cannot forget history. “The experience of the past, also not far from us, teaches that when God disappears from the horizon of man, humanity loses its direction and risks making steps towards its own destruction.
“Faith in God opens man up to the horizon of a certain hope,” on which we can rely, so as to “abandon ourselves with trust into the hands of the Love that sustains the world.”
The conference is an initiative organized and promoted by the “Cultural Project Committee” headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. It has gathered believers and non-Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure that the “God debate” is present in an increasingly secular society.
At the opening of the conference on Thursday, Cardinal Bagnasco thanked the Pope for his words of support and added that the three-day gathering would be “moved by the typically human and profoundly Christian demand to seek the Truth.”
This, he continued, might sound “vane or illusory” to the non-Catholic, but the process of seeking Truth “demands an open investigation, in all areas, on the profound significance of living and functioning.”
And this search, said Cardinal Bagnasco, is one of the elements that most “distinguishes man from animal or machine.”